Kate Torgersen, a mother who struggled with the inconvenience of traveling with breast milk, founded Milk Stork, a company that specializes in providing breast milk delivery services for traveling parents. Learn more about her inspiring story and how Milk Stork is helping parents on-the-go.
Kate Torgersen states that her path to parenthood was “bumpy.” “After a few years of trying, it became evident that we would need assistance,” explains the mother of three. In 2010, she gave birth to her son Jackson, and in 2013, she gave birth to her twins Finn and Zo through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Torgersen felt tremendously fortunate despite the “roller coaster” nature of the event. Yet when the twins were just four months old, she returned to her communications position at Clif Bar. There was only one major obstacle: “I was breastfeeding, and breastfeeding twins is no laughing matter,” she explains. “Every other day, I produced one gallon of milk. It took a significant amount of work to feed them.”
When Torgersen went to work and traveled for business, the experience highlighted the logistical challenges associated with storing and transporting breast milk while traveling. See how Torgensen came up with the idea for a breast milk delivery service and her greatest advice for parents who have become entrepreneurs.
The Journey That Inspired the Concept
In late spring 2014, about one year after the birth of her twins, Torgersen was offered a four-day business vacation. She considered informing her boss that she could not attend. Torgersen expresses gratitude for Clif Bar’s breastfeeding-friendly atmosphere, but the mother of three was nonetheless conflicted. She explains, “I didn’t want to miss out on opportunities.”
So she ultimately went. “It meant I had to pump two gallons of breast milk to cover my absence, which meant pumping sessions in addition to the eight times they were already eating each day,” Torgersen recounts.
Once on her trip, she was required to pump more. “I was required to pump every three hours, even in the middle of the night,” Torgersen explains. “Of course, that resulted in the production of two gallons of milk, which I had to not only manage on a daily basis while I was at the conference but also transport home while standing in the TSA line.”
Torgersen recalls bringing packing cubes, Nalgene bottles, and Ziploc bags. The TSA inquired as to why she had so much milk. “They forced me to dump out all the melted ice,” she recalls. “After I was on the other side of TSA, I had to walk to a bar to refresh the ice; it was a major inconvenience that was completely unnecessary.”
Torgersen became enraged on the plane as she reflected on the encounter. “When I returned, I thought, ‘I want to change this,'” she adds. “It wasn’t so much that I desired to create a business. I simply desired to eliminate this ludicrous obstacle course that pumping mothers must traverse to travel for business.”
Her concept was a breast milk delivery service for business travelers that would provide overnight, refrigerated breast milk shipping to a baby at home.
Milk Stork Is Born
Torgersen called her father, a Silicon Valley veteran, upon her arrival to discuss the initial steps. She explains, “He was the type of person who could help me figure it out and would be my biggest supporter in attempting to solve this situation.” “He had also witnessed me attempting to feed three children for three years. Thus, he was deeply invested.”
Given that she was working full-time and parenting three small children in California, she had little time to figure out the logistics. She explains, “I knew my father could do much of the legwork.”
However, Torgersen conceived of the name Milk Stork and the logo and branding, and she had business cards printed. In August 2015, after more than a year of effort, the company launched.
“In October 2015, we onboarded our first enterprise client,” Torgersen recalls. “And by December 2015, we had acquired four additional clients. In 2016, we were enrolling hundreds of new customers each month.” Parents who used Milk Stork and asked their companies to refund the expense became Milk Stork patrons.
After three years, Torgersen began fundraising, which required him to make a case that reached beyond the running of Milk Stork. Torgersen states, “It was an effort to normalize nursing.” It was difficult to convince people that this was a problem women faced.
Torgersen was also able to leave Clif Bar and begin paying herself a salary at about the same time. “The first paycheck you receive from a business you founded is fantastic,” she explains. It feels like an incredible accomplishment.
The Lessons She Discovered
Torgersen maintains that she does not take her salary or the opportunity to assist nursing, working parents like herself, for granted. She also gained knowledge along the way.
Consider it an investment.
Torgersen says she has learned to consider the growth of every dollar she spends. This also applies to time. “I believe it has helped me focus on what is most important in my life,” she says. Ensure that every dollar you spend is an investment in something that is meaningful to you or vital to your family’s health, well-being, and safety.
Embrace the difficult bits.
The founder of Milk Stork notes that as an entrepreneur, you must crank all the gears, regardless of your skill at doing so. “Working on something you’re good at is a lot of joy,” she acknowledges. She is responsible for marketing, communications, and conducting interviews.
There are, however, areas of the business that will always be challenging. This pertains to operations and financial modeling for Torgersen. She thinks the most exciting aspect of being an entrepreneur is expanding into areas that are not your forte. “The company does not require me to be the best financial planner in the world. I have support. So simply challenging myself in this manner is incredibly fulfilling.”
Take baby steps.
What is Torgersen’s finest piece of advice for someone transitioning into family or entrepreneurship? “It does not occur all at once,” she explains. “Let yourself sufficient time to adjust. Little steps lead to enormous leaps.”
According to her, making too many significant changes at once can be difficult to process. Instead, she suggests taking steps in a different direction and allowing the correct way to become apparent. “Start slowly,” urges Torgersen.
Torgensen urges other parents to have trust in their ambitions regardless of the pace. She says, “I hope that mothers feel empowered in their parenthood to achieve the changes they desire in their lives.” “If you possess an idea, do yourself a favor and invest in it. Do not turn your back on it.”
Invest in contentment.
Torgersen’s relationship with money has been altered by his foray into entrepreneurship. Despite the fact that she confesses she’s not earning as much as she was at Clif Bar and that she and her family have had to make difficult financial decisions, it’s worth it in the grand scheme of things.
“When I consider my financial health, I am truly considering my happiness,” she explains. “We now live a more fulfilling life with less. These painful financial decisions were investments in our happiness.”
The entrepreneur educates her children to view money in the same manner. “I want them to realize that it’s not always about money,” she says. “That is not the objective here. The ultimate objective is to live a fulfilling life. It is to create objects. It is to provide value to others. And by investing their money in such ways, they can establish a meaningful existence.”
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